Ever since Susie Temple bought the Jackson Hole Book Trader three years ago, she’s imagined the space as a place to cultivate the literary community in a town so often defined by outdoor recreation.
“Literature is the bedrock of culture, and having a literary community is probably one of the most important things we can do,” Temple said. “But you have to have places to do that — we have a vibrant library, the Teton Literacy Center and the Center for the Arts, and I wanted to add a more intimate space to that list.”
To celebrate Jackson’s rich literary tradition, the Book Trader will host a poetry reading Tuesday with the help of the nonprofit Jackson Hole Writers. The event will bring together local and regional poets to share their work.
“We envision this space to be welcoming to all authors and poets, and all supporters of the literary arts,” said Abbie Stanford, the Book Trader’s events coordinator. “Teton Verse, Vol. 001 dedicates a night to our poets and their talent.”
The writers who will read include Adrian Croke, Betsy Bernfeld, Connie Wieneke, Dondi Tondro-Smith, Fran Lunney, Jill Naylor-Yarger, Jo Ann West, Leah Shlachter, Matt Daly, Nancy Shea, Rick Kempa, Shawn Meisl, Susan Austin, Jennifer V., Stephen Lottridge and Margo Caslavka.
Daly, a celebrated poet and the assistant director of Jackson Hole Writers, helped bring together writers for the evening’s lineup, drawing from networks of friends and colleagues in the local writing scene.
“I like that nobody’s featured,” Daly said. “You wouldn’t know anyone’s credentials, and that’s not the point. It’s about creating community.”
What each poet will bring to the table is a mystery, although Daly anticipates there will be an emphasis on landscape and place-based writing. The only parameter placed on writers is that their reading must be three minutes or less.
The floor will also open up for an open mic during the middle of the event, at which time anyone is encouraged to read their original work.
The gathering is free and family-friendly, and people of all experience levels are invited to enjoy the evening, whether as a listener or as a reader during the open mic. It will be a casual night of spoken word rather than a formal poetry recitation. Refreshments will be provided.
The event also serves to spotlight the work and dedication of the Book Trader and Jackson Hole Writers.
Although Jackson Hole Writers was originally formed to host the annual Jackson Hole Writers Conference, it has expanded to partner with bookstores and school districts to promote literature in the community. The organization hosts a youth writing conference in the summer, aptly titled “Almost Authors.”
Daly said the organization hopes to foster writing as an “avocation rather than a vocation.”